'Pamela, why is everyone getting on the diversity band-wagon?' a Group Human Resources Director asked me back in 2010. 'Odd,' I thought, given that the inquirer belonged to a segment of our society that Diversity Council Australia says represents 'diversity' – that being the gay and lesbian community. I pondered for some time, why this person, who I had expected to have a personal interest in achieving diversity and equality, would make such a disparaging remark about those trying to help.
Was it 'too little too late'? Possibly. Was it sarcasm born of the belief that service providers were only offering to help now because they could see an opportunity to a generate income from it? Possibly. Or was it merely an attempt to make light of the fact that more and more people were getting involved as if it were a new diet or exercise regime? Possibly.
The purpose of this blog
It didn't really matter what was driving the statement: what mattered was that 'to be focused on achieving diversity' was referred to as a 'band-wagon', as if people were only getting involved because it was fashionable and that like fashion, people would lose interest in it with the passing of time.
Diversity is not a business-induced fad designed to gain market share or to provide fodder for the professional services, trainers or consulting communities. The need for diversity will not pass with time like the short-lived burst of interest in ISO 9000 accreditation of the 1980s or the panic-driven demand for IT services in 1999 when everyone worried about their computers crashing as the clocks ticked over to a new millennium on 1 of January 2000.
In this blog I will aim to keep the conversation alive for people who think gender equality in Australia is 'a fad' or that it 'is done'. I will also share what I know and have observed to date and what I discover going forward with those who believe there is more to do.
It is clearly ‘not done’ if:
- there are only 7 female CEOs in ASX200 companies
- less than 10% of the managers of ASX200 companies are female
- less than 13% of ASX200 company board members are female
- less than 10% of all listed company board members are female
- less than 18% of all university Vice Chancellors are female
- only 30% of all government board members are female
- only 2 out of 12 winners of the Archibald prize between 2001 and 2012 were female
- it took Australia 31 years longer the UK to appoint a female to the position of Prime Minister (24 years longer than Norway and 13 years longer than New Zealand).
It's never too late to start
It took me a long time to admit that – other than being a role model, coach and mentor for a few select women throughout my career – I had done little else to influence others to lead the changes required to bring about equality for women in business or society. If you have reached Chapter 3 of Stepping Up you will have learned when I discovered this, how it came about and what I decided to do to help, from that point on.
I always thought it would be too hard to step up and worried that people might label me 'feminist' or something. Well, the worst didn't happen and in fact, only good has come from it.
Men and women can both do more. My mantra is 'Ladies, please don't bash men who are trying to help but who might say the wrong words or phrases from time to time'...and 'Gentlemen, please stop trying to 'fix women' and start thinking about how you can shift long-held assumptions in our society about the roles we can and should play.'
Share your thoughts here
This blog is to encourage interaction so that we may influence a positive change in attitudes and behaviours. Please comment, challenge, inform or debate the issues raised here and if you have a story to tell or would like to be a guest blogger, please contact me directly.
Thanks for stopping by.
Author: Pamela Young